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Using Yield Response Curves to Measure Variation in the Tolerance and Resistance of Wheat Cultivars to Fusarium Crown Rot

Forknall, Clayton R., Simpfendorfer, Steven, Kelly, Alison M.
Phytopathology 2019 v.109 no.6 pp. 932-941
Fusarium pseudograminearum, Triticum, crown rot, cultivars, environmental factors, field experimentation, fungi, grain yield, inoculum, wheat, New South Wales
The disease crown rot, caused predominantly by the fungal pathogen Fusarium pseudograminearum, is a major disease of winter cereals in many regions of the world, including Australia. A methodology is proposed, using response curves, to robustly estimate the relationship between grain yield and increasing crown rot pathogen burdens. Using data from a field experiment conducted in northern New South Wales, Australia in 2016, response curves were derived for five commercial wheat cultivars exposed to six increasing rates of crown rot inoculum, where the rates served to establish a range of crown rot pathogen burdens. In this way, the response curve methodology is fundamentally different from alternate approaches that rely on genetic or environmental variation to establish a range in pathogen burdens over which yield loss relationships are estimated. By manipulating only the rates of crown rot inoculum and, thus, pathogen burden directly, the number of additional confounding factors and interactions are minimized, enabling the robust estimation of the rate of change in yield due to increasing crown rot pathogen burdens for each cultivar. The methodology revealed variation in the rate of change in yield between cultivars, along with the extent of crown rot symptoms expressed by the cultivars. Variation in the rate of change in yield between cultivars provides definitive evidence of differences in the tolerance of commercial Australian wheat cultivars to crown rot caused by F. pseudograminearum, while variation in the extent of crown rot symptoms signifies differences in the resistance of the cultivars to this disease. The response curve methodology also revealed variation in how the different mechanisms of tolerance and resistance act to limit yield losses due to crown rot for different cultivars.